Higgins Boats – The Featured Marque At The 2011 Quincy Classic Boat & Outboard Show

Fellow Woody Boater Al Benton reports from Quincy, Illinois and a very cool Higgins Deluxe Sedan – Take it away Al…

Higgins Boats was a Featured Marque at our recent Quincy Classic Boat & Outboard Show co-hosted by the Mississippi Valley Chapter, ACBS, the Quincy Boat Club and Two Rivers Chapter, AOMCI. Quincy, IL is an historic river town on the Mississippi River just upstream a few miles from Hannibal, MO, boyhood home of Mark Twain (pin name of Samuel Clemons).

This year a Pre-Show Event was added to the already fun show schedule. Aptly named the Hannibal to Quincy Mississippi River Run, it included launching small boats in Hannibal and cruising the river some 18 miles upstream to the Show in Quincy. They would join several classic cruisers that were north-bound from the St. Louis area to the same show and would meet at Lock & Dam 21 to lock-through together. The dam is a mile or so downstream of Quincy.

As I arrived in Hannibal (by road) I noticed that a couple of small cruisers had joined the 7th Annual Quincy Classic River Run that was quite surprising. One of these small cruisers stood out as a 40’s classic but was too far away to indentify. She looked awesome across the wide river and I couldn’t wait to see her up close.

I crossed the river to the small boat launch site in hopes of getting a closer look. When I arrived, she had cruised back toward Hannibal, where I had just left. They wanted a closer look at The Mark Twain Mississippi Riverboat and this photo was the best that I could capture of her. She remained a mystery.

The cruisers departed Hannibal about an hour prior to the small boats in hopes of arriving at the locking chamber at about the same time. I stayed around before driving on to Lock & Dam 21 and got a shot of this beautifully restored 1961, 18’ Higgins Mandalay named “WAVES” being launched. She’s owned by John & Carolynn Thompson. The passengers are Don & Kathy Parker, all representing the Heartland Classics Chapter, ACBS who’ll be hosting the 2012 ACBS Annual Meeting & International Boat Show on Table Rock Lake at The Big Cedar Lodge in Southwest Missouri.

I arrived at Lock & Dam 21 observation platform in time to watch the boats begin to enter the lock chamber. There were 27 antique and classic boats inside when the gates closed but no sign of the beautiful little cruiser that I saw in Hannibal. I surmised that it must have been a local boat out for a day cruise and wasn’t participating in the River Run to Quincy.

Disappointed but not discouraged, I watched the cruisers and small boats depart the lock chamber, then headed off to The Quincy Boat Club docks.

Doing what classic boat lovers do at shows after all the boats are secured at the docks, I suddenly noticed the little cruiser had arrived. I grabbed the camera, ran to get a shot just as someone yelled “NO REVERSE!!!” . Fortunately there were dock hands to safely stop her before ramming the docks.

There she was! What a beautiful sight; A 1948, 26’ Higgins Deluxe Sedan Cruiser proudly bearing the name “The Andrew J” on her transom. Aboard her were owner, Jeff Oppenheimer of Indianapolis, IN, Paul & Marge Morris of Des Moines, IA and Ed Higgins of New Orleans, LA, great nephew of Andrew J Higgins, founder of Higgins Boats.

They were delayed due to blowing freeze plugs in her newly rebuilt Chrysler Crown engine. Now who thinks of packing spare freeze plugs in your emergency kit? They had one but then, 2 others gave way. Reverse gear worked fine after readjusting the linkage a little. On Saturday evening “The Andrew J” joined other boats for the traditional river cruise to The Island Club (accessible only by water) for a wonderful BBQ dinner and much camaraderie.

The Andrew J quietly and patiently waiting at the docks for her owner to return for the Sunset Cruise from The Island Club back to The Quincy Boat Club docks.

There were a total of 5 Higgins Boats present at our show in Quincy along with Ed Higgins who’s great uncle, Andrew J Higgins, founder of Higgins Industries in 1930, designer and builder of many WWII landing craft, PT Boats and others and many pleasure boats following the war years.

Here’s a photo of the group of Higgins owners along with Ed Higgins (on the far right end). He’s standing next to Jeff Oppenheimer who is in the red, white & blue jacket.

The others are:

– Terol Suddeth & Eric Petry – Des Moines, Iowa, LIL BUDDY, 1947, 17’ Higgins Sport Speedster
– John & Carolynn Thompson – Southwest Missouri, WAVES, 1961, 18’ Higgins Mandalay
– Marge Morris, Paul’s wife
– Linda Mote – Atlanta Georgia, RUMBLESEAT, 1947, 17’ Higgins Sport Speedster
– Paul Morris – Des Moines, Iowa, MISS FITT, 1960, 18’ Higgins Mandalay
– Jeff Oppenheimer – Indianapolis, IN, THE ANDREW J, 1948, 26’ Higgins Deluxe Sedan Cruiser
– Ed Higgins – New Orleans, Louisiana, great nephew of Andrew J Higgins, Higgins founder

A fun weekend in Quincy with some very nice folks – Al Benton

Thanks Al for the fun story from the recent Quincy Classic Boat & Outboard Show and a big thanks to the folks from the Mississippi Valley Chapter, ACBS, the Quincy Boat Club and Two Rivers Chapter, AOMCI for all your hard work to host this year’s show.


14 replies
  1. Texx
    Texx says:

    Stay tuned to Woody Boater around noon EST today for Part 2 of the Higgins Deluxe Sedan Cruiser story from the recent ACBS International Event on Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.

  2. Noel E. Trueworthy
    Noel E. Trueworthy says:

    Congrat’s to Jeff on completeing his 48′ sedan. I spoke to him briefly a couple of years ago. I owned the 47′ sedan which is pictured on the old Higgins boat assciations website along with Jeff’s 19’er. That boat has since gone to Vermillion, Ohio. Jeff can contact Moes Marine there to contact and swap stories with the new owner. As far as I know these are the only two concurent sedans left in the world. Again great boat, great job, Jeff. Yes the headliner is the same on both boats.

  3. Jeff Oppenheimer
    Jeff Oppenheimer says:

    Wow…what a nice tribute to the Higgins family and owners of Higgins boats. I can speak for all the folks, owners and fans of Higgins boats, that you did a wonderful job Al depicting the eloquence and class of The Andrew J. We have already had a great lot of fun with her, especially during the evenings just hanging out visiting inside the cabin with the rain pitter-pattering on her cabin. Mostly though, I still get a little choked up thinking about the history of her and how she has brought so many fine folks together, both spectators and friends, while at the Quincy gathering and in Lake Geneva. Having Ed Higgins present in Quincy was a real treat and I look forward to the next time we all meet. It was truly rewarding meeting new friends and listening to them tell stories of Higgins boats of their past and present.

    Warm regards and thank you so much for the nice article and feature from Woody Boater!


    • Al Benton
      Al Benton says:

      Jeff, it was such a pleasure meeting you at the Quincy Show. It’s so rare to find 5 Higgins boats in the same place at the same time. Thanks so much for making the show even more special by including “The Andrew J” among them. She’s an incredible classic.

  4. Al Benton
    Al Benton says:

    Hey Texx, I’m back (those danged cookies!!!). Maybe a day late and a dollar short but thanks for posting the Higgins Story featuring “The Andrew J”.

    All, don’t forget, the ACBS Annual Meeting & International Boat Show next September at Big Cedar Lodge, Table Rock Lake, Southwest Missouri. The waters on Table Rock Lake are “Small Boat Friendly” so start planning now to join us near Branson, MO next September.

  5. Louise Giles
    Louise Giles says:

    Just finished reading the book about Andrew Jackson Higgins and the Boats that Won World War II. So great to see these peacetime Higgins boats. Congratulations to those who restored them and to the members of the Higgins family whose ancestors contributed so much to our country.

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